Posts Tagged ‘Who Am I?’’

Pale Waves‘ next album ‘Who Am I?’ singer/guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie has revealed is out now. Baron-Gracie confirmed the news when she responded to a fan on Twitter who posited the idea that the Manchester band’s follow-up “is just chilling on a hard drive somewhere” 

Pale Waves’ debut album, ‘My Mind Makes Noises’, was released in 2018. In a four-star review, “Pale Waves’ debut album packs a whole lotta love. ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ is an album that obsesses over break-ups and make-ups, as well as dizzy affairs and their bitter fallouts – purposefully telling the story from all different angles. It’s the perfect record to summarise the band’s rise from Manchester’s little secret to one of the most adored new bands in the country.”

“This is the perfect title: ‘Who Am I?’“, says Pale Waves’ lead vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie of the band’s stellar second album. “It’s simple. It’s easy to understand. It represents where I was in my life, ready to embark on that journey to become the better version of myself.”

With its release date pushed back by not only a near-fatal bus crash but a world-shaking pandemic, too, the arrival of the follow-up to 2018’s Top 10 LP ‘My Mind Makes Noises’ feels like a hard-won triumph. Informed by the Manchester group’s collective struggles with fame and its spoils, it’s a bracingly candid effort that explores the physical and mental constraints of growing up in the spotlight. “I feel like as an artist you feel vulnerable all the time,” Baron-Gracie continues on the real meaning behind the album’s title. “Putting yourself on show to the world is intimidating, and I do have mini freakouts quite often about it.

“I tend to feel vulnerable a lot of the time, but it really helps people. The music that I write is there for them, and creates a safe space. So all that vulnerability, all those feelings of me freaking out are worth it.”

‘Who Am I?’ is open, authentic and honest – a record which Baron-Grace explains was heavily inspired by the unflinching strength of legendary alt-rock artists Courtney Love, Alanis Morissette and Liz Phair. Making the album also gave the frontwoman the space and confidence to explore her sexuality openly through the band’s lyrics, a personal subject that was left untouched when recording Pale Waves’ debut three years ago.

“This is the first time where I’ve been so open about my sexuality,” she says. “I needed to represent the LGBTQ+ community in a healthy and positive manner. I didn’t want to jump into it too soon… I needed time to figure myself out even more. Our fans, some who are gay themselves, finally feel represented in a healthy way – and they feel understood. I’m really glad that we can do that for them.”

Pale Waves Come into Their Own on <i>Who Am I?</i>

Pale Waves from the band’s very beginning. They had the dark, brooding look of an ‘80s goth act, but a discography full of danceable pop hits. Even while receiving acclaim as the NME Under The Radar Award winner before their debut album’s release, they caught heat from critics for sounding too much like other indie-pop artists. With all of the discourse on the individuality of Pale Waves (or lack thereof), their second album “Who Am I?” amplifies the qualities that caused fans to label them as the next big thing

Pale Waves are looking forward to calmer waters in 2021. Last year promised so much—the release of their sophomore album and an ensuing world tour, for one thing—but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK indie rock band found their usually steady boat rocked by rough seas.

A near-deadly tour bus crash last March wasn’t the only life-altering event that they endured (drummer Ciára Doran, lead guitarist Hugo Silvani, and bassist Charlie Wood were lucky to escape with their lives). Self-identity struggles plagued Doran and lead singer Heather Baron-Gracie, and the usually tight-knit duo found themselves butting heads over their next album’s musical direction. Add in a life-threatening virus that completely changed how records are produced, and the physical and mental impact of numerous setbacks was taking their toll.

And yet, hope sprung eternal. The pandemic’s arrival allowed Doran, Silvani, and Wood to recover from their injuries. For Baron-Gracie, the global shutdown provided the opportunity for some long-overdue self reflection—a period that has not only led to Pale Waves’ frontwoman being more open about her sexuality and inner demons, but one that lit a creative fire.

Born out of that soul-searching is “Who Am I?”, Pale Waves’ second LP that is equal parts post-grunge and pop-rock, a middle finger to societal labels and a haven for anyone who feels lost or alone. Speaking to us over Zoom, Baron-Gracie revealed the unusual influences behind the album, discussed comparisons to The 1975, and shared why the foursome are closer than they’ve ever been.

Pale Waves excels at making the personal feel relatable on “Run To” and “Tomorrow.” While “Run To” is told from Baron-Gracie’s perspective and “Tomorrow” is a collection of stories from others, both songs take an optimistic view of the growing pains that arrive with coming of age as an outcast. With catchy and relatable one-liners like “sexuality isn’t a choice” and “everything is going well / except my mental health,” the band reaches through their past of stifling small towns and feelings of hopelessness to uplift fans who know their feelings all too well.

“Who Am I?” opens with “Change,” a track that trades the ‘80s glam synths of Pale Waves’ debut album My Mind Makes Noises in for a ‘90s-inspired acoustic guitar. The switch-up is perfect for frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie’s vocal prowess, with the singer’s voice landing somewhere between the pop-with-an-attitude of Avril Lavigne and the raw emotion of The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan. This isn’t to say Pale Waves floats by on the nostalgia factor alone—the band translates their many inspirations into their own brand of indie pop that feels perfectly fit for 2021, with their lyrics bouncing between relationships, identity and mental health. On an album centered around a question of identity, the band is at their strongest when shouting out the answer. Few songs on the record compare to “You Don’t Own Me” in terms of pure anthemic pop-rock, as Baron-Gracie defiantly asserts, “You don’t own me / and I’ll do whatever I want to” in the face of everyday misogyny. 

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Pale Waves have just dropped ‘She’s My Religion’, another track to be released from their upcoming album “Who Am I?”.

A track following the story of a cynical girl and the speaker’s love for her, it fights against the usual stigma that darker characters are unlovable and Hollywood’s preference for positive love interests. This normalisation of unhappy characters still being necessary to our lives can be heard in the lyrics, “She helped me find a different kind of love, made me feel like I was finally enough / She’s cold, she’s dark, she’s cynical, she’s forever angry at the world / She’s no angel but she’s my religion”.

Opening with a soft solo guitar, Heather’s vocals join in a whispery tone and set the scene for the love story. Suddenly, the chorus of the song brings the power that we’re used to from Pale Waves. With blasted vocals that’ll be screamed by everyone who can relate, the verses go back to a slow paced track creating a nice balance between passion and sincerity. 

In an age where hetrosexual couples are still the focus of popular media unless being the feature of a dramatic and often overwhelming and exaggerated hollywood film, it’s refreshing to see Pale Waves talking about homosexuality in such a casual and accessible way. It allows young people to find themselves without being scared to ask questions or feeling isolated from a community because they haven’t felt the struggles of past generations. This accessibility along with the erasure of the usual clichés of over-sexualisation or experimentation is exactly why Pale Waves made the cover of Gay Times this year.

‘Who Am I?’ is the second album from indie-pop icons Pale Waves, due for release on February 12th 2021.

Recorded in Los Angeles over early 2020 with Rich Costey (muse, biffy clyro, sigur ros), and led by the unabashedly huge lead single ‘Change’, it finds the Manchester band stepping up once more, fulfilling the promise of that widely-lauded debut album and striding towards pop megastardom. 

From the new album ‘Who Am I?’, out February 12th – Dirty Hit Records.